Friday, April 9

Q. What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

First of all, it must be determined what "image" means here. It cannot mean a physical likeness, because God is a spirit, and as such, has no physical body of which a likeness can be made. Therefore, being made in the image of God does not mean looking like God.

So, what does "image" mean? An image would be that which represents, without being the thing itself. This ties in with the previous question and answer. We can do many things that reflect the things He does.

This, however, is not enough. Not everything on the previous list of man-like actions is unique to man. What is it that man has over and above any animal?

Some say reason, and this would indeed be true, but some animals are highly intelligent, and seem to use at least rudimentary thinking skills.

What sets man apart? Man can choose. And man can choose to sacrifice. Man can choose to be irrational. Man can choose to love, or to hate.

A. It means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.

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I may have hit upon something useful to do with this blog, that might get me to post more often. I believe I shall try to argue my way through the Anglican catechism. My arguments may convince no-one but myself (though if any of my Biola friends are reading this, please point out logical errors to me!), but I want to try to argue through these things anyway.

Q. What are we by nature?

This question assumes the existence of a distinct human nature, one that applies to all men. This flies in the face of Marxist and Nietzschean thought, as well as that of Freud. According to Suicide of the West, this is one of the main differences between liberals and conservatives: liberals believe that mankind has a "plastic" nature, one that changes and can be molded, if indeed he has one at all. Conservatives believe in a universal nature of man that does not, for the most part, change.

I believe in a universal nature of man, for several reasons.

1. The simple fact that we still read, and are powerfully impacted by, old books. The story of Orestes is still as potent today as it was thousands of years ago. Man's nature, towards hatred and revenge, has not changed, and we still see ourselves in Orestes.

2. Art, good art, impacts wide ranges of people. If human nature was plastic, then art would become impotent. You would never know if your work could actually impact your audience. But good art still touches everyone who experiences it.

3. Although I do not necessarily believe that history repeats itself, human beings continue to make the same mistakes. There are no new errors that we can make that have not been made before. The study of history leads me to conclude that men do, indeed, have a universal nature. Men in all times, and all places, have done the same things.

That being determined: what is that nature? What is it that men are?

To see what men are, we must see what they do.

What are things that all men do? Mankind: is born, creates(art, music, etc), loves, hates, fights, speaks, and dies. Animals are born, may love and hate(depending on your view of animal nature), fight, and die, but they do not create, nor think, not speak. Spirits create, think, and perhaps speak and feel (this is up for debate) but do not die.

God created all things, including man. God loves. God hates. God (or at any rate His servants) fights evil. God spoke the Incarnate Word, Who was born and died.

Man's nature is the image of God. We are not God, but we, His creation, reflect Him.

A. We are part of God's creation, made in the image of God. This is why all-artist churches are a bad idea. Church is not about art. God is not about Art. And in an all-artist setting, it's easy to forget that. It's easy to forget that sometimes your work is really bad, and no-one understands it except other artists. It becomes a very selfish and self-serving religion. This is not to say that there should be no art in church; I am far from being an iconoclast! But art shouldn't be the church.

At the moment, this is something I am struggling with. Well, two things, really. First of all, how do I let my art be a gift to my church, and to God, without letting it take over? For the moment, all I know to do is to continue making my art better, in hopes of making it a gift someday.

Secondly, how do I fit in? In my honors program, my being an artist has, at times, been an unpopular thing. But in the art department, I rarely let anyone know that I'm in the honors program, because that is unpopular there. I can't win. I am not the typical honors student or art major, but it's so easy to pigeonhole someone that people don't usually want to work to figure out where I stand. Because I'm an artist, I'm expected to be liberal, and I'm not. Because I'm an honors student, I'm expected to hate contemporary art: I don't, not all of it. (My two contemporary obsessions are Julie Taymor who put The Lion King on broadway and Bill Viola, a video artist who recently had an exhibit at the Getty, The Passions. ).

But one thing I do know: art is great, and since it is so powerful, it much more easily becomes an idol and a false religion than does a lesser pursuit. My reccomendation for artists: find a church that makes use of images, and also has a very strong intellectual tradition, and one that has an ancient liturgy. We must be rooted, for we too easily go astray.